David Roesch and Jim Schuman. Jim Schuman and David Roesch.
If it’s not one of the exceptional teaching (and playing) professionals winning the Wisconsin PGA Section Match Play Championship, it’s the other. At least, that’s the way it’s been for the last eight years.
Schuman, who teaches at Blue Mound Golf & Country Club, won the title in 2011, ’12, ’16 and ’17; Roesch, who teaches at Storm’s Golf Range, claimed the trophy three consecutive years starting in 2013.
To no one’s surprise, they met in the final Monday. This time, it was Roesch winning the title with a hard-fought 1-up victory at Westmoor Country Club.
“My short game really saved me where some of the momentum could have changed,” Roesch said in a story on the WPGA’s website. “I just feel lucky. You don’t get many chances to win the majors. If you can win a few here and there it feels really good.”
This year marked the first time the Match Play Championship featured a season-long format. In mid-May a field of WPGA professionals played a qualifying round and the first three rounds of match play on the Links Course at the Golf Course of Lawsonia. The last three rounds of match play would take place over the next 3½ months; players were given approximately five weeks to finish each round and could mutually determine the site and date.
Schuman and Roesch had first-round byes in match play and then won four matches to set up the showdown.
Schuman beat Charlie Brown of Geneva National (1-up), Erik Stenseth of University Ridge (1-up), Andy Podolak of the River Club of Mequon (5 and 3) and Michael Crowley of Morningstar Golfers Club (19 holes).
Roesch beat Doug Cheever of Wausau CC (4 and 3), Joe Wood of SentryWorld (4 and 3), Brad Peck of Nakoma GC (2 and 1) and Eddie Terasa of North Hills CC (20 holes).
In the championship match, Schuman and Roesch were even after six holes, but momentum swung Roesch’s way when Schuman bogeyed No. 7 and Roesch birdied No. 8 to go 2-up.
“Jim struck the ball beautifully,” Roesch said. “I think he might have missed two greens all day. And on those two greens, I think he just mis-clubbed.”
On No. 10, Roesch stuffed his approach but Schuman answered by sticking his close, too. Both made birdies and Roesch maintained his 2-up lead. The players then matched pars on hole Nos. 11-14.
Schuman finally clawed to within one with a two-putt birdie on the 519-yard, par-5 15th. But Roesch matched Schuman with pars on the next two holes to go dormie.
Schuman knew it was most likely going to take a birdie to force extra holes and the two-time defending champion hit a superb approach on No. 18, his shot from 150 yards settling about 10 feet from the hole.
Roesch answered with his own precise shot from 142 yards, knocking his 9-iron to about 12 feet. He then rolled in the putt for a birdie to finish off the bogey-free round and claim his fourth WPGA Match Play title.
His victory sets up a showdown at the WPGA Professional Championship, next Monday and Tuesday at The Legend at Merrill Hills. Schuman is the defending champion and also won the title in 2001, ’02 and ’05. Roesch, the 2015 champion, goes into the event within 100 points of Schuman in the race for 2018 WPGA Player of the Year honors.